Daytona personal report

Friday (just getting there) ------ The week so far had been a traveler's nightmare in or out of Austin, with massive fog banks delaying all takeoffs or landings at the airport. However, Friday dawned as a beautifully clear day! Getting to and...

Friday (just getting there) ------

The week so far had been a traveler's nightmare in or out of Austin, with massive fog banks delaying all takeoffs or landings at the airport. However, Friday dawned as a beautifully clear day! Getting to and out of the Austin airport did not pose a problem for Jodi and I, but we did have to deal with a four hour layover in Dallas...no earlier flights were available to Orlando on our frequent flyer mileage award tickets. We were both looking forward to this trip...me for the racing thing, Jodi for a much deserved vacation on the beach and at the Disney parks.

We arrived at Orlando on schedule at 9:00, but then couldn't find the checked baggage...turns out they arrived before us on an earlier flight. Once we got that out of the way, we grabbed a GrandAm (yes, a GM product...but brand new with less than 300 miles), and headed out to our condo for the week on the beach in Cocoa Beach. We hooked up with Scott Decatur by phone and setup how we'd meet for the caravan to Daytona in the morning. Eldo shambled to the door and begged for overnight shelter...we kindly obliged and showed him the balcony. ;) Actually, we ended up talking and walking the beach way too long, and didn't tuck in 'til after 1:30. The morning wakeup at 6:00 was going to come much too soon...

Saturday (disaster is averted!) --------

The morning dawned with beautiful flights of cranes cruising the waves along the beach...that and the early morning riser down there practicing tai chi. Eldo cherished the moment... ;) In talking with Scott last night, we'd planned on meeting up down the road at 7:00 or so. jEff and I headed down to take a few things to the car while Jodi finished up getting ready. Now look...I'll be the first to say this hardly ever happens to me (last time was well over 5 years ago, but sure enough, as I checked to make sure keys were in hand, locked the car door and closed it, turns out the keys in hand were condo keys. The car keys were safe and secure on the seat...in the car...which was locked...and we're due to m Scott in 15 minutes. Wasn't *that* special?...

After quickly finding out there was no way we were going to break in to rescue said keys, we made a command decision that jEff would take his car to notify Scott, while I waited for the handy 24-hour locksmith to come save us... He showed up 30 minutes later and opened the door in less than 30 seconds. At $45, that's one helluva labor rate! Just wanted to get that out of the way first...Lord knows Eldo has his own twist... We ran into jEff, Scott, and Scott's lovely Vanessa and headed on out to pick up some beer, breakfast, and ICE...we're only 30 minutes late...and yes it's my fault dammit! ;)

Yet...the plot thickened. When Scott found out jEff had no ticket yet, a conspiracy developed for Vanessa to pack it in and Eldo to take her place. I immediately gave Eldo the withering glare for such a selfish act...Jodi said no way *she* was going to be the only female on this jaunt...Scott started to figure he was damned if Vanessa went and damned if she didn't...Eldo had a pleading "I'm innocent!" look on his face...Vanessa just smiled and took it all in (she's got a mind like a trap, that woman...). We convinced Vanessa to go with us and let Eldo scavenge up a ticket as planned. Finally we were off to the track.

Saturday (this cell has *your* name on it...) --------

Scott did a great scouting job earlier, and brought us in from the south with no traffic problems. Only thing was...where we wanted to park in the front corner of the Volusia Mall was completely packed. We continued on down and parked on the grass directly across from the JCPenney side entrance. Scott and Vanessa had crafted a magnificent "official" R.A.S.N banner that we decided to hang from the back of a street sign in front of our cars. We nearly got arrested. While Eldo was stringing the dang thing up as high as he could reach, 3 cop cars and 2 mall security trucks converged and blared out on their PAs "BANNER MUST COME DOWN." Scott asked, "Can we hang it from these trees back here?" "NO, NOT ON ANY MALL PROPERTY." Dang... We ended up tying it across the windshield of our rent-a-car under the intense scrutiny of mall security and Daytona's finest. Such criminals we be.

Seeing as it was only 9:15, jEff said he was going to go find a ticket, the rest of us headed over to NASCARWorld. There's not much there worth spending $8-15 to get in for...I found the best exhibit/"show" to be the tech inspection deal, even if t-h-e-y d-i-d t-a-l-k r-e-a-l s-l-o-w. Here's a factoid: did you know the engine builders build those WC motors such that the cubic inch measurement wil hit 357.995 after the 3 hour cooldown period following a race? Given the maximum allowed of 358CI, those are some tolerances... Best crowd effect was watching how people got sucked over to the dyno exhibit whenever they cranked up a motor. Looked just like a vacuum cleaner... There was a panel session going on with Mike Joy, Buddy Baker, Glen Jarrett, and Randy Pemberton. Nothing of great import to report on there...they were saying the same old things you'd typically hear during their usual pre-race patter. My impressions: MJ is even worse in person, BB is *much* more enjoyable in person when he's just being himself, GJ has more personality than you ever see on the air, and RP is the most competent of 'em all. If you're with folks who are unfamiliar with the technical aspects of NASCAR racing, this place may have some value.

Saturday (the Goody's 300/RASN Reunion) --------

After NASCARWorld (and the first observed DUI arrest), we returned to R.A.S.N central to find that Eldo had hooked up with Skip and Mike Maciolek. It was starting to get nice putting real live people to electronic names. Racetime neared, though, so we headed on over to the track. Along the way, we saw where someone had spilled half a bag of ice on the ground...some scavenging soul (probably a r.a.s.n lurker) immediately stopped and loaded it into his cooler. True life tales of not forgetting the ICE!... ;)

Eldo had managed to find a seat in the same tower as Jodi and I, but lower. The Goody's 300 was one of the more entertaining BGN races I've seen on a superspeedway in a long time. Even though the leaders were mostly WC regulars, the BGN regulars did a good job keeping up. After the first or second caution, NASCAR explicitly told MWallace's crew chief that the #90 better roll out of the throttle when the yellow caution lights flash...and that would be MW's last warning for 1995. I'm pretty sure NASCAR is serious about safety this year...

MWaltrip had a good run early, but got behind in tires late in the race. When he pitted on the last caution, he saw Jeff Green getting stickers. MW wasn't pleased, "Look at Jeff Green with four new stickers...imagine that! %$*@ing Earnhardt, gets everything he wants whenever he wants it. I've got the car to win and no shoes to do it with...all I want to do is win." At the end I was amazed at how CLittle appeared from nowhere to swoop in and grab the lead. It looked like a big wreck fixing to happen every single one of those last 10 laps.

After the race, we stopped by the track gift shop to get the obligatory stuff for folks back home. Eldo started jawing with the old fella selling programs at the door and found out he'd bought the Sunbelt Video production RV that jEff was intimately familiar with. Back at R.A.S.N central, space had opened up on the corner, so we moved our vehicles and banner over to that more noticeable site. The Maciolek's had to leave early, but several others did make an appearance: Rich Gotta, Paul Worth and friend, Bev Morgan and hubby Harley, and Mike Reed and girlfriend. In all, a five-fold increase in the *last* R.A.S.N reunion at Charlotte last year! ;) Best part of the whole deal was seeing all those R.A.S.N shirts gathered together in one place. We did get pictures to be posted soon as part of this account when it gets into my Web page. Look for a R.A.S.N sticker on Harley's mini-stock at the New Smyrna Speedway this year...

Saturday (apres race...) --------

It had been an eventful day, but it was not yet over...our gracious hospitality locals, Scott and Vanessa, escorted us to the Fisherman's Wharf restaurant in Cocoa Beach. This is the part of meeting R.A.S.N folks that I like the best...where you hold a ton in common and can immediately have a great time out on the town. Eldo and I both shook our heads later about how one day, you barely know somebody, and the next you're sitting in their home as best of friends. Ya just gotta love it! We had some great seafood that night, fed our leftovers to the catfish in the river under the restaurant pier (they're so thick you could walk on their backs), and traded a ton of stories (guess who the "Spew Queen" is).

We dropped by Scott and Vanessa's place afterward for continued partying, race tape watching (from Breland's professional quality racecam), yard touring (them's BIG fruits ya got there Scott), cat scratching, and kidnap tale telling (whoever ran off with Scott and Vanessa's blow-up doll, please give it back...). Another thing, we started a new tradition that night by signing the r.a.s.n banner. Should've thought to do it at the track earlier, but hey...blame it on brain fade. Anyway, it will make its next appearance at Darlington, so look for us! I gather the next reunion will be at Dover after that, so whoever wants to take charge of the banner let me know and I'll send it off to ya...

Back at the condo, Jodi called it a night around midnight, but jEff and I stayed up to see what was happening on R.A.S.N. By 1:30 we still hadn't been able to post anything because of line noise, and 6:00 was rapidly approaching, so we called it quits then too.

Sunday (the pre-race race or It's Scalpin' Time Again...") ------

In the morning I remembered the keys, and we hit the road by 7:15. Eldo followed in his THUNDERBIRD (yes, the greatest bowtie apologist ever drives a Ford product). Traffic was relatively light (and yes, I drive fast) as we barreled up I95, Eldo saved us all by flashing his lights as we passed by a trooper getting on an entrance ramp. We survived this second chance at jail to make it to Volusia Mall, where we parked out back. It was 8:15. Jodi dropped into snooze mode while jEff and I scouted out escape routes and conducted some preliminary Red Dog taste testing...

Probably the most exciting part of our pre-race festivities was watching Willie the cop orchestrate the herds of fans through the 192/Bill France Blvd intersection...that and going into "let's find a ticket" mode. All the sellers were lying way low and pretending not to be conspicuous scalpers. Truly a pitiful sight..."How much you want for that $80 ticket?" "Oh, I've got $175 in it and I'm looking for $150." Later... After an encounter with a second way conspicuous scalper, Jodi and I left Eldo to his own devices in finding his ticket. It did not appear our plan to find 3 good seats together was going to work out at all. Fortune smiled on him with a fantastic seat...we were miserable down in the stands on row 2. I never even cranked up the camcorder as there was nothing to see. Thank God I had the scanner though...

Sunday (Let's Race!) ------

I have a feeling Eldo and I were checking on many of the same channels since we both heard much of the same things. Best pre-race comment was SM talking about CBS' heli-cam: "What the $%&# is that?" Evernham went into his traditional "You the man, you the man" business with JG again. RL summed up the early #22 woes with, "We're doing a heckuva job in a wrecked race car!" Once, when SM and DE started to check out a little bit, you could hear Tony Glover saying, "Andy Petrie, if you can hear me, just stay in line and let's go settle this amongst ourselves."

DJ and Larry McReynolds were playing it cool as usual over in the #28. DJ mentioned he had a really bad loose condition most of the day that slowed him getting off T2. McReynolds advised the conservative route and to go for a good finish. When BE had to make that unscheduled pit stop, he first said "Got a vibration, feels like a loose wheel down the backstretch." It was nice to hear his voice back on the scanner after not having it due to JJ's scrambling business. Then again, it was nice *not* to have to listen to BB's constant complaining since now *he's* the one that's scrambled...

The #98 team had problems from the get go...that's all I heard until I finally locked out their channel. When asked by his crew chief if he was braking in the turns to set the car, RC in the #41 said, "I'm never lifting off the gas...uhh, so no." Late in the race (lap 154) I caught RC mumbling in a very tired voice, "I'm about wrecking every lap." This was also about the same time JB in the #8 hollered, "Tell that 41's spotter to stay in #$&%ing line...don't try to pass!" When RL spun in T2 (right before the RW/BH tangle) on lap 159, he said "Yeah, I'm okay...someone came up from behind and just blew the #%$@ing windshield out!"

The last several laps were surely a sight to behold...when DE came in for that last pit stop, Childress was very explicit, "You've gotta come in...if we're going to have any chance of winning this thing, we've got to stop and fix that push. I know it's gonna be tough, but that's our only chance." Gutsy call...and absolutely right on the money. They dang near pulled it off. During the last five laps or so, KS was absolutely livid with BE, "@#$&ing Elliott! What the hell is he doing? $%#&ing Elliott!" Meanwhile, TM wasn't too happy with JG either...particularly when JG helped DE draft on by TM on the backstretch, "That little @#$%! Who the hell is he racing?"

But the part that shocked me the most was hearing NASCAR get on their frequency (also monitored by every team out there) and say several times, "He's (referring to DE) coming on up...let him by, let him by." Now your guess is as good as mine whether NASCAR was addressing only the lapped cars or not, but still...I couldn't believe it. Fair's fair, and that was ridiculous. It was a done deal when SM took the white flag, though...you could see him pulling away as he went through T1. What he had to say while going down the backstretch was kinda what you hear at the Academy Awards, "Ah wanna thank all y'all foah makin' this happen..."

Sunday ("is it over yet?") ------

We packed it up and headed off to the Winston Tower to find jEff, where we found Ken Squier and Ned Jarrett coming out of the tower elevator first. Thought a second about snagging an autograph for Bob Paxton, but just didn't have the energy. Sorry Bob, maybe next time... ;) It was a long walk back to the cars, and we spent most of the time figuring strategy for getting jEff to a gas station on the fumes he had left in his car. Ended up hanging out for awhile to let more traffic die down before escorting him within 100 yards of the nearest gas station. After dumping Eldo ;) we tried to get out the back way (east, thence south)...it took an hour to clear traffic (even after waiting 2 hours after the end of the race). Got back to the condo and died...

It was a very enjoyable trip to say the least! Even if my Sunday seats did suck... :( Thanks to all the RASNers who made appearances (especially the local sorts who did all the pre-race scouting for us!) Next stop on the tour will be Darlington in March with Kehoe (and Eldo again). It'll be Bob's first WC race...this is gonna be good! If we can figure the technical stuff out, stay tuned for LIVE reports from the track with the trusty laptop and cellphone... :)

--- Mark A. Breland -- Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation (MCC) Research Division 3500 West Balcones Center Drive | voice: (512) 338-3509 Austin, Texas 78759-6509 USA NB#51 | FAX: (512) 338-3900

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Green , Ned Jarrett , Buddy Baker